Bridge 99 Fire near Lake Billy Chinook

The Cove Palisades State Park and Marina is Open.

sunset and bridge 99 fire smoke pics 2014 051

“J.R.” said it was great to see you all at the parade!

4th of July 2014 madras parade 014

Have a Safe and Happy 4th of July!

Picture1Reminder:  Fireworks are prohibited at The Cove Palisades State Park

What do high school seniors and first graders have in common? It might surprise you!

You may remember last year Culver High School S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) class designed and built a hydroelectric powered paddle-wheel that will power a portion of the Crooked River Campground. Well they did not stop there.bat house project CR 2014

This year biology teacher Mike Dove, Culver High School, is leading his AP biology class into the dark and mysterious world of bats. Mr. Dove invited me to be a guest speaker on local bats for his class. What an amazing group of students! With their new found knowledge the seniors were inspired to create their own power points to share; then took a trip to Culver Elementary School and visited Mrs. Dix’s first grade class. Peer teaching is an amazing way to learn about how cool bats are. This was the first of several times the two classes will work together. Next, the first graders visited Culver High School’s wood shop and built 12 bat houses. The first graders made and sold bat cookies at recess to help finance the project. Mr. Dale Crawford’s High School Agriculture students came to The Cove and put in three 16 foot poles to hang the bat houses on. Finally as an end of the year field trip, all the kids visited The Cove Palisades State Park Crooked River Wetlands Area to hang the bat houses. Our new park stewards have created important new wildlife habitat for more than a thousand bats! While the first graders waited for their houses to be hung, they learned firsthand how bats use echolocation to find their prey in the near dark of night. The final portion of the project will be an interpretive panel that park staff will install when it is finished. The panel will detail the project, show the children’s art work and educate visitors about the importance of bats in the park.

bat project 1

bats 2

So why you might ask is this important? Bats are among the least appreciated but most beneficial of mammals, they are a vital part of entire ecosystems – and worth literally billions of dollars to the world economy. Bats in Culver are important in numerous ways. The most important reason is natural pest control. A single little brown bat can eat between 600 – 1000 mosquitoes in an hour which lessens the chance of West Nile Virus spreading to humans. Just think of the millions of dollars farmers save in crop damage every year and the gallons of toxins that we are spared from releasing into the environment. Worldwide bats are important pollinators, humans derive 80 different medicines from plants that rely on bats for pollination. A clot-dissolving protein which is found in the vampire bat’s saliva is used in heart patients. They can regenerate entirely decimated rainforest ecosystems through seed dispersal. Their guano is used for organic gardening, in gunpowder and explosives used in by NASA. The next time you drink your morning coffee you may have a bat to thank for that!

Thanks to Culver Elementary and Culver High School for your dedication and commitment to the STEM program. The Cove Palisades State Park would like to thank the teachers and students for your creativity and hard work.

Fire Danger Will Be Extreme This Summer


roasting a marshmallow

The west is prime for a busy and deadly fire season this year; and Oregon is no exception.  The snow pack from this winter is well below average in many areas and several counties within Central Oregon District have declared drought emergencies. Precipitation over the last 90 days has been near or below average, and warm, dry weather is expected to continue. As a result we are quickly approaching high fire danger levels when a fire that starts can get big very quickly.

The Oregon Department of Forestry has set Monday, June 9, 2014 as the beginning of wildfire season for Central Oregon, 5 days earlier than last year which turned out to be the worst season on state protected land in 60 years.  The number of fires and acres burned isn’t necessarily the best gauge of how bad a fire season can get: Although 2013 saw a record-low number of wildfires nationwide, it was one of the deadliest for firefighters. The U.S. Forest Service says the wildfire season now averages 78 days longer than it did in the mid-1980s.

People heading out to recreate on public lands during fire season need to check fire and weather conditions.  Checking in advance is a routine precaution that campers should exercise every summer during fire season, if for no other reason than road closures are always possible.  Campers need to obey all closures and restrictions, no matter how inconvenient they may be.  Be prepared to change your travel plans quickly when the situation warrants.  Keep in mind that you may not be able to cook food the way you had planned.

Boaters may find lakes, reservoirs, or rivers closed if fire fighting helicopters need to fill buckets or tanks from the water.

While we can’t control the weather that leads to lightning-caused fires, everyone can do their part to prevent human-caused fires.  If you have a campfire, please take these precautions to limit the potential for disaster:

  • Make small camp fires only in designated fire rings.
  • Make sure all firewood is inside your fire ring, no limbs hanging out of the sides.
  • Educate young campers not to play with fire or run around with burning sticks.
  • Do not burn garbage
  • Do not add gasoline, diesel or lighter fluid to get a wood fire started.
  • Do not leave your campfire unattended.
  • When you leave, make sure your fire is dead out – mix with water or dirt – if it’s too hot to put your hand over, it’s not out.
  • If conditions are unsafe, do not light a campfire.
  • Make sure you charcoal BBQ’s are on a firm, flat, surface.
  • Cover charcoal BBQ’s
  • Do not dump hot coals in garbage cans or in vegetation areas.
  • Use caution if you have to park in or next to dried grass.
  • Do not smoke on trails.

Oregon residents are strongly encouraged to contact their local fire protection agencies for additional burning information and specifics regarding any regulations on the use of chain saws, warming fires, BBQs or ATVs.




In 1995 the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW) reintroduced wolves into the United States from Canada to Yellowstone National Park and the State of Idaho. The wolves have been steadily moving westward, increasing their populations and territory. Once hunted to extinction in the State of Oregon, by 2000 wolves were here again. A success story to be sure, but no one expected the human interest story of a lone grey wolf his search for his place in the world.


OR-7, also known as “Journey,” a tagged, young, male, grey wolf from the Imnaha pack in the northeast section of Oregon had wanderlust. In 2011, he was a two-year old seeking his own territory and a mate to call his own, OR-7 endeavored on a three year journey walking thousands of miles across the state, stopping briefly in Central Oregon, and headed south to California. As he walked farther and farther away from any known wolves; many thought he was making a futile trip, where only loneliness awaited him. Journey wandered into Northern California in December of 2011 making him the first wild wolf to walk on California soil since 1924. For a time it seemed that he couldn’t find where he belonged but last year he returned to Oregon. His amazing trek made that much more amazing by the fact that, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, he did not attack any livestock along the way. In May of this year, a black female grey wolf was spotted (it is still unclear where she is from) in the same general location and it appeared that Journey had finally found a mate. The pair established a territory in the southern Oregon Cascades in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. It wasn’t until June 5th when officials reported two wolf pups, approximately 5-6 weeks old, had been located in a fallen log. It is possible that there are still others. “Litters are typically four to six,” said Michelle Dennehy, ODFW spokeswoman in Salem.

journey's puppies

There are mixed reactions to the new family; from excitement to trepidation. “This is very exciting news,” Paul Henson, state supervisor for the Fish and Wildlife Service said in a news release. “It continues to illustrate that gray wolves are being recovered.” Rob Klavins, northeast Oregon field representative for Oregon Wild said, “This demonstrates that wolves are surprisingly resilient and, given a chance, they can do pretty well.” But ranchers are concerned that a new pack could spell trouble for them in the future. Education will be key for the two to coexist in the future. Oregon Fish and Wildlife officials have offered advice to ranchers for mitigating potential conflicts. For the time being, Journey’s wanderlust is no more and his new family will start a new chapter in wildlife conservation in the American West.

For more information on grey wolves or to report sightings go to

Need a Summer Job?

The Cove Palisades State Park

Visitor Experience Program Staff
Job Description

JOB TITLE: Visitor Experience Program Assistant

ANTICIPATED DURATION OF POSITION: Four month duration in 2014; 652 hours

WORK SCHEDULE: Memorial Day – Labor Day; 40 hours per week with three, consecutive, mid-week days off; weekends, evenings, and holidays. Some overnight travel possible.

SALARY: $11.94 hourly; $1,910.40 monthly

LOCATION/JOB SITE(S): The Cove Palisades State Park, Peter Skeen Ogden Wayside

APPLICATIONS ACCEPTED: Beginning April 21, 2014 until the position is filled.

Assists with the administration, planning, training and implementation of visitor-focused programs. Programs and projects are related to interpretation, outdoor skills instruction, volunteer management, outdoor recreation, environmental education, partnership groups, and special events.
• Daily support of and assistance with visitor experience programs and projects, including but not limited to: Let’s Go, interpretive programs, park volunteers, Jr. Ranger programs, and special events.
• Working with a variety of OPRD office and field staff, and park volunteers to ensure consistency in operational procedures, projects, and products.
• Creating, organizing, maintaining, and transporting program supplies and equipment.
• Preparing marketing and program materials for a variety of audiences to support new and ongoing programs.

• Educational background in parks, interpretation, environmental education, volunteer management, outdoor recreation or tourism preferred.
• Experience working in one or more of the following program areas: interpretation, outdoor skills instruction, volunteer management, outdoor recreation, environmental education, partnerships, and special events.
• Specialized skills in developing and safely leading outdoor programs with a wide variety of audiences.
• Proficiency in Microsoft Office products required.
• Ability to multitask on a variety of ongoing simultaneous projects. Independence, creativity and resourcefulness are key in this position.
• Must be willing to communicate openly, ask questions, accept positive criticism, and work as a part of a dynamic team.
• Applicant must also pass a criminal background check and possess a valid driver’s license and satisfactory driving record.

Visitor Experience Program Assistants will receive a thorough employee orientation and written position expectations from lead workers. You may attend CORE training. OPRD Safety modules will provide job safety training. Project and task-specific on the job training provided to use tools and systems in place. Ongoing coaching and mentoring will be provided by supervisor and other team members. A final evaluation and exit interview will be provided at the end of the season.

• Varied work environments depending on work location; must be willing and able to work in a busy, shared office environment and also out-of-doors, in uniform.
• Computer with e-mail account and access to Internet, phone, audio-visual equipment and other tools provided.
• Operation of a state vehicle expected – may include cars, trucks, vans, or golf carts, possible trailer towing.

Submit a cover letter and detailed resume which describes your interest and relevant experience. Please be sure to state the dates that you are available.
Send to:
David Slaght, Park Manager
Erin Bennett, Interpretive Ranger
The Cove Palisades State Park
7300 SW Jordan Road
Culver, OR 97734
Phone: 541-546-3412
Fax: 541-546-2220

A Sure Sign Spring is Here


Swallows found in Central Oregon: Bank Swallow | Barn Swallow | Cliff Swallow | Northern Rough-winged Swallow | Tree Swallow | Violet-green Swallow

The Cliff Swallows (Hirundo pyrrhonota) are back and busy making a home for the young they plan to raise at Lake Billy Chinook.

RANGE: Breeds from western and central Alaska and central Yukon to northern Ontario, southern Quebec and New Brunswick south to Mexico, southwestern Louisiana, northern portion of the Gulf States and southern North Carolina; also in the Lake Okeechobee region of southern Florida. Winters in South America.

STATUS: Common in the West, locally fairly common in the East; overall populations are stable or increasing in the west.

HABITAT: Originally restricted to the vicinity of cliffs and banks; now occurs over open country around farmlands, towns, bridges, dams, freeway overpasses, and other areas near mud supplies and potential nest sites.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: A vertical substrate with an overhang for nest attachment, a supply of mud suitable for nest construction, fresh water with a smooth surface for drinking, and an open foraging area near the nest site. Strongest Oregon nesting habitat association on cliffs, bridges and buildings in urban and rural residential areas, and edges of cropland, pasture, and orchard.


NEST: Originally nested on bluffs, cliffs, deep gorges in mountains, and sometimes on the side of large pine trees and in caves; has adapted to building its gourd-like mud nests under the eaves of, or in, buildings, under bridges, in culverts, on the face of dams, and under freeway overpasses. Forms colonies of up to several hundred nests in favorable locations.


FOOD: Consumes insects caught while flying high, often above 100 feet, as nearly 100 percent of the diet.

IN CENTRAL OREGON: Common spring and fall migrant throughout the region, except in southern Deschutes County the High Cascades. Traditionally arrives late April to mid-May, along with Barn Swallows, but departs much earlier, often by late August. Breeding usually confirmed between early May and late June. Easily found nesting on farm buildings or rimrock near open water and often in large colonies.

Spring in Central Oregon

In Central Oregon, we are just waiting for that first sign of spring which practically begs us to get outside and hit the trail again. As everything turns green, wildflowers peek their colorful faces up to the sun, and the swallows return, spring can be one of the most exciting times to explore our State Parks.  Regardless of your outdoor experience level before hitting the trails, paddling the river or finding the perfect camp spot, it is always a good idea to check your gear and remember safety should be your first priority so that your adventure is a positive experience.


Spring weather is in Central Oregon is unpredictable. The day may start clear and sunny and before you know it, snow is falling. Be sure to pack extra layers of clothing, including socks. In a word, spring hiking is wet. Snow is melting and rain is often falling. Be wary of wet surfaces and muddy roads. Speaking of wet, remember the old adage, “cotton kills.” While it’s great to have a cotton t-shirt or sweatshirt to slip on after the hike, wet cotton clothes rob the body of heat and take a long time to dry out. Be sure to wear synthetic clothes appropriate for the sport and conditions you’re experiencing.

If you’re a paddler, don’t forget that if the air temperature and water temperature aren’t more than 100 when added together, hypothermia is a real concern if you get wet.  Probably best to wait for a sunny day, or at the least, be sure to bring some dry clothes in your dry bag should you go for an accidental swim.

Your joints, muscles and lungs may have been hibernating over the winter. Don’t start out on a 20 mile trail run if you haven’t been running in months. Be sure to warm up slowly and stretch when you’re done. This goes for hiking, paddling, biking, or any other sport. Work up to longer outings so you don’t injure yourself and miss the rest of the summer.

Remember the last time you went camping? Last summer when it rained the morning you broke camp, the kids wanted to see the last Junior Ranger Program, your dog was running around the campsite and you discovered a hole in your air mattress? Well, if you’re like most of us, the tent likely reeks of mildew and the air mattress is still punctured. Pla12228793-camping-gearn a weekend to check your outdoor gear.  Be sure to clean and fix all of your gear before you go out.     If you camp in a trailer or RV it’s time to de-winterize, stock up and fill up the propane tanks.  Make a list so that you can restock if necessary – and don’t forget the S’mores! If you’re bringing kids or a newbie, this is especially important.



Speaking of kids and newbies, start out easy… Maybe the three night backpack you’ve been dreaming of all winter isn’t the best early season trip. Start with something easier and adopt a positive attitude. Remember, you want this person to like camping, hiking, paddling, trail running, or whatever.  If you haven’t camped before and want to get some good advice, Let’s Go Camping at the Cove Palisades State Park is a great way to start. We provide everything you need and show you how to use it. This year’s program is scheduled for the last weekend in June. For more information contact Jill Nishball, Visitor Experience Coordinator, at 541-388-6073.


To make spring and summer reservations at your favorite Oregon State Park go to

Eagle Watch 2014

More than 800 people came to view the birds at the 19th Annual Eagle Watch Event at Round Butte Overlook Park in Culver this winter.  It was a weekend of mostly blue skies, beautiful birds and great hot dogs!  The annual celebration honored the eagles and other raptors that call the Lake Billy Chinook area home and featured a wide variety of activities designed to explore the natural and cultural significance of the birds.  The event hosted by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Portland Gas and Electric and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

EW 2014 003

Event coordinators would like to thank all the partner agencies, companies and event volunteers for your dedication, passion and enthusiasm you brought to the event.  Special thanks go out to the Telecom Pioneers. This is the group that has been cooking up your Eagle Watch Hot Dogs for nineteen years.  This year’s highlights were live birds of prey from the Sunriver Nature Center and the Quartz Creek Drummers and Dancers.  Children got to make puppets, bird houses, bird masks, enter coloring contests, catch fish with their “talons,” pick grubs from a tree with their “beaks,” and go on a scavenger hunt through the Eagle Village.

EW 2014 026

EW 2014 035

EW 2014 057

The Cove Rattler is seeking your comments about the event; if you were able to attend this year, please let us know what you thought about Eagle Watch and what you might like to see next year for the 20th Annual Eagle Watch Event.

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